Laura's Birthday at Paula's!

I went to my first outing since the Coronavirus lock-down the other day. It was just a few of my new friends (and new to me friends), and we sat six feet apart, so I think we were okay. But OMG was it wonderful to be out and with other people again! We met in Paula's backyard paradise to celebrate Laura's birthday. (Laura is on the left, and Paula is on the right.)
(You may recall I did a four-post feature of Paula's Paradise a while back.) Paula made us a lovely lunch...
And a gorgeous cake and cupcakes for Laura. (Paula goes 200% on everything she does - she is an artist after all!)
We sat out on the back patio talking and sipping lemonade (spiked) and punch. Here are Laura, who just retired from Winthrop, and Kathy.
Alice showed off a pretty cupcake for a photo - her shirt was a perfect back-drop!
We had so much fun just gabbing and catching up on well, everything. Somebody asked what time it was and it was nearly 7:30pm!! Just goes to show how badly in need of some human companionship we all were. I hope we can do it again soon!

Update: Sadly, the day after the party, Laura lost her brother, award-winning LA TIMES sports writer, Chris Dufresne. My best wishes go out to Laura.

VIDEO: Jellyfish

Want to lower your blood pressure? Watch this... it's a live webcam of the jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Turn up the volume and set the image to full screen to get the full calming effect.
Click the image to watch this and see some other awesome animal webcams at SLJ (School Library Journal).

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 29 May 2020

From Cynsations: In Memory: Thomas Low, Co-Founder of Lee & Low Books also at PW: Obituary: Thomas Low
My picture book, The The Prince's Diary was with Lee & Low.

From NYT: A Feud in Wolf-Kink Erotica Raises a Deep Legal Question "What do copyright and authorship mean in the crowdsourced realm known as the Omegaverse?

From PW: Children's Books for an Election Year and 2020 Political Books for Children

From The UK: The Report of the Libraries' Public Lending Rights - why don't we have this in the US? We do it for music - a musician makes money every time their song is played. Whey don't authors and illustrators make money every time their book is checked out?

From "How Stuff Works": The Surprising Controversy Behind 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'


From Wired: Hey Kids! Read These Books on Your Very. Long. Summer "We've got suggestions for classics to rediscover, what to read if your brother is driving you nuts, plus ideas to help you process this whole Covid situation."


From The Chronicle of Higher Education:
     How to Cope With Covid-19 Burnout
     On Not Drawing Conclusions About Online Teaching Now — or Next Fall

From 9to5Toys: Amazon is offering over 250 Scooby Doo eBooks for FREE right now

From FB Picturebook Scholars: Richard Scarry's WHAT DO PEOPLE DO ALL DAY? Covid-19 version

From Scholar Space: Is children’s literature as hard as scholarly articles about children’s literature? A comment on Macalister and Webb (2019)

From PW: J.K. Rowling Releases First Serialization of New Story Online - find it online HERE

From CNBC: ‘I think Amazon should start paying their taxes,’ Joe Biden says

From The Bookseller: Rosen out of intensive care after 47 days

From SLJ's Fuse #8:
     Could COVID-19 Mark the End of the Physical Galley? (I offered my thoughts in the comments)
     'Nestflix' and More Animal Webcams for Quarantined Kids

At FB: Great story prompt thread from Ellen Kushner based on an illustration by Will Coats


From FB: Watch this demo of Catherine Rayner drawing SOLOMON CROCODILE (Catherine is one of the best watercolor/ink illustrators in the business!

From TimeOut: The Eric Carle Museum's first virtual picture-book exhibit has original artwork

From the NYT: Scratch: An illustrated column about money - and the people who deal with it (great alternate application of illustration)

From The GoodNewsNetwork: World’s Largest Open-Air Gallery Was Painted By People With Learning Disabilities—And It’s Breathtaking

From Medium: A Coronavirus Picture Book Round-Up

From dPictus: the unpublished picture book showcase Go vote on these amazing books!

From The Guardian: The English towers and landmarks that inspired Tolkien's hobbit sagas

From The Art Room Plant:
     The Artwork of Chris Korobova

     Cut and Collage

From David Hillman on FB: Time lapsed video of a revised sketch for a spread page on the picture book i'm developing.

From Brain Pickings: Enormous Smallness: The Sweet Illustrated Story of E. E. Cummings and His Creative Bravery “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

From Muddy Colors:
     Filling the Cracks with Steven Belledin
     Our Painted Lives

From The Charlotte Observer: Voice finalist CammWess recalls Winthrop, Rock Hill influences on road to success

From Pretty Hard to Do: In lockdown while abroad

From The NYT: First Inklings of Fame "The class of 2020 has no idea what the future holds — and neither do we. Here’s a look back at some icons starting on their paths to renown."

From Parler Paris (one of my favorite newsletters by an American living in France): Why I Stayed in France (scroll down)

Akiko Miyakoshi's THE PIANO RECITAL

Akiko Miyakoshi entered the children's book world with a BANG and has continued to create wonderful book after wonderful book. I'm thrilled to have her on for one of her recent titles, The Piano Recital.
e: What was your creative process/medium for The Piano Recital, can you walk us through it?
Among my previous illustration works, there is one in which a girl in a dress standing on the theater’s stage alone. Although this illustration had nothing to do with a picture book at the point I drew it, an imaginary short story that resides inside the illustration eventually became the main story of the first draft of The Piano Recital. As such, a lot of time I made picture books setting a single illustration as a starting point. And then other pictures or texts came after in order to build a fantasy world. I’m good at visual thinking.
Speaking of the background story of The Piano Recital, a lot of elements reflect my own experiences in my childhood, such as piano lessons or a small recital. I was not a good pianist, but a lot of memories have been in my mind. Those memories allowed me to imagine and draw details about a theater and the girl.

Aside from the girl, the mice also play important roles in the picture book. Mice are undoubtedly lovely creatures although sometimes they aren’t welcomed neighbors for humans. But imagine a world where they live cultural lives in the backyard of a theater. I thought it must be charming if the girl encounters the little mouse in the theater like Alice tumbling down a rabbit hole.

In terms of medium, the main drawing materials for this book are acrylic gouache, wood charcoal, and pencils. I like wood charcoal because it’s suitable to express the dark atmosphere of the theater.
e: You have so many beautiful books, including The Storm, The Way Home in the Night, and A Tea Party in the Woods
with this amazing illustration that first made me notice you:
. There's also your newest title, I Dream of a Journey which I may have to ask you back to talk about!
What was your path to publication?
When I was in college, I made my very first picture book. And l sent it to a Nissan Children’s Storybook and Picture Book Grand Prix. Then I won the second prize. It encouraged me so much and l applied the competition every year from that year on. During that time, I graduated from the art school and worked as an illustrator. Living in Berlin for a year was also nice experience for me. In 2009, l finally won the grand-prix and did debut with The Storm.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of The Piano Recital? And do you play piano?
No, I don’t play piano. I used to learn playing piano for a long time when I was small. But I was not into it. When I was making The Piano Recital, I had a tiny mouse as a model. He was so cute yet strong. When he found an insect, he always fought and won! He was truly part of my family and lived a long life.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Not only the picture itself but the underlying story is also an important factor of an illustration. I value this so that readers can imagine something more, such as character’s feeling, the place, time, the weather, the atmosphere, and so on. I think that “Heart Art” can take readers into the illustration’s world at a glance.
e: How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
I have my own website and SNS (twitter and Instagram). I share my artworks and activities through them. On top of that, I hold an exhibition every year. It’s always fun and inspiring to meet various people at the exhibition.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
It is rewarding when an artwork is finished. Especially when it’s an artwork that can get across the emotion and the atmosphere that texts cannot do. Having good luck with an artwork sometimes prompts me to imagine an extended story behind the picture, which might evolve to a picture book when I have more luck.
e: Is there something in particular about The Piano Recital you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
In a situation which you may feel under pressure, like being in front of people, it's a lot nicer for you to have fun than being nervous. This is true to me as well. I wasn't good at delivering a speech years ago, but in these days It's been way more enjoyable once I tried to have fun.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Now I’m working on some new projects. One is short stories about a shrew who lives like a human. And the other one is a picture book about 2 girls living in a same apartment become friends. In addition to that, a picture book project about an old photo studio, which is a self-publishing project with a book designer. And few more ideas and projects are also in my head.

e: Thank you, Akiko! I hope to have you back on for I Dream of a Journey!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Reading Bear

     I created this image for a new friend's birthday. In fact, I created a video about the making of it, which you can see here - click the image to watch on Youtube (and please subscribe!):
Click the image to open the full-sized coloring page.
CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance, I'm celebrating the new illustrated (by me) edition of A BIRD ON WATER STREET! My debut novel won me "Georgia Author of the Year!"
Booklist said it's "A book deserving of a wide readership, recommended for all libraries."
If my news and images add value to your life, won't you please
Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...

     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

The Voice's Camm West is a Winthrop U student!

My title says it all! Camm has taken a semester off to perform on The Voice (click that link to listen - amazing!). See an interview with Camm at CN2 HERE. Winthrop is so proud! Here is a shout out on twitter:

Winthrop University Chorus

I dare you not to tear up listening to this gorgeous video from the Winthrop University Chorus. Click the image to watch on Twitter.

VIDEO: Ace of Cups

OMG - I adore this song, but I especially adore the story. According to the YouTube post:
In the Summer of 1967, San Francisco’s first all-female rock band burst onto the scene. They were legendary from the beginning – 5 uniquely talented woman writing fantastic songs, rocking as hard as any band out there and harmonizing like beautiful, psychedelic angels. Their star burned bright – and briefly. Despite making a big impact as a live act, and making friends with everyone from Jimi Hendrix to The Grateful Dead, the band split up without ever making a record. 50 years later, they are finally releasing their debut studio album, a stunning collection of songs that reflect their unique origins and deep life stories. As the news began to spread that the Ace was recording, old friends and allies began to catch word and come by the studio to offer support and musical contributions. People like Bob Weir, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Taj Mahal, Jorma Kakounen, and others. When the dust and smoke had cleared, 36 songs had been recorded, and what started out as a chance to set the record straight turned into a history-making second-act. The story continues this Fall, when the world will get to hear the musical magic that is the Ace of Cups.
Click the image to watch these awesome gals rocking out on Youtube!

VIDEO: Tolkien Symposium: Fantasy in Times of Crisis

I attended the Fantasy in Times of Crisis Symposium online the other day, and lucky you, it was recorded! You can go directly to the site HERE, or access it through Terri Windling's blog, Myth and Moor (one of my all-time favorite blogs, by the way) and get her take on it (good!). Per the website:
The Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature was established in 2013 at Pembroke College, Oxford, where J.R.R. Tolkien worked for twenty years as professor of Anglo-Saxon. Speakers in the series are given freedom to discuss any aspect of fantasy literature, broadly defined to include other types of speculative fiction. Our aim is to honour J.R.R. Tolkien’s legacy by promoting the study of fantasy literature.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pembroke College’s Tolkien Lecture on Fantasy Literature transformed into an online symposium. Previous speakers of the series Kij Johnson (2013), Adam Roberts (2014), Lev Grossman (2015), Terri Windling (2016), and V.E. Schwab (2018), together with forthcoming speaker Rebecca F. Kuang (lecture date TBD), discussed the importance of fantasy in times of crisis: how science-fiction and fantasy literature respond to, and provide inspiration during, moments of despair and personal difficulty.
I highly recommend this uplifting an illuminating talk by some of the top fantasy writers in the field today!

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 22 May 2020

From SLJ:
     The Importance of Critical Thinking in the Age of Fake News "In today’s complex media environment, students must learn how to identify the source of information, verify it, and analyze how it was designed to make them feel, according to news and information literacy experts."
     Take 5: Things to Keep in Mind While Doing Virtual Programming
     For Kids Who Don’t Have Books at Home, Communities Are Working to Reach Them | Donalyn Miller
     #BreakTheStigma: 14 Nonfiction Mental Health Books for Children, Tweens, and Teens
     VIDEO: School Librarian Panel Discusses Using Virtual Meeting Tools To Connect with Students
     Free Virtual Field Trips for Touring the World From Home
     IMLS, CDC Offer Guidance for Disinfecting Returned Library Books

From Brightly:
      Mondays with Michelle Obama Featured Books
     5 Teacher-Recommended Tips for Exploring Current Events with Your Students
     How to Talk to Your Children About Climate Change

From The Bulwark: Dear Reader A letter from the author of ‘The Giver’ and ‘Number the Stars.’ (Lois Lowry)

From The Conversation: Urban fantasy novels: why they matter and which ones to read first

From tes: How would the Weasleys have coped with homeschooling?

From PW: In Pandemic, Dystopian Fiction Loses Its Luster for Editors

From Pub Rants: Publishing—From a Social Distance by agent Kristin Nelson

From JSTOR's The Daily: The Linguistics of Cooties (and Other Weird Things Kids Say) The game of cooties lets children learn about the idea of contagion, but kid culture and wordplay aren’t meant for adults.



From The Guardian: The end of coronavirus: what plague literature tells us about our future

From PW: Bologna's Virtual Fair Draws 60,000 Online Visitors

Terri Windling's Myth and Moor: Harvesting Stories


From The Good News Network: IKEA Released Instructions on How to Build the 6 Best Blanket Forts For Your Home Quarantine

From PW: The Fanatic (Weekly Graphic Novels Newsletter)

From AIGA: 50 Books, 50 Covers This year's award-winners

From Random House: RH Graphic Their graphic novel newsletter

From Illustrator Christian Robininson: Making Space (activity show for kids)

From CBC: Kelly Pousette had a fear of the forest, but her paper cut dioramas helped her find joy in the wild

From Children's Their monthly newsletter with interviews, industry news, and featured illustrators

From Muddy Colors:


From Soundcloud: Podcast - Design Matters - has a great lineup of speakers!

From SLJs 100 Scope Notes: The Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Books of 2020

From CommArts: Kathleen O’Hara Based in Tiverton, Rhode Island, this illustrator continually innovates her approach to create work in the arena of fantasy.

From The NYT: A Drive-By Art Show Turns Lawns and Garages Into Galleries

On Twitter: Liza Donnelly draws, Visual Journalist @NewYorker, cartoonist/writer.

From Angie's Web: Drachenburg Castle, an elegant Palace with a magnificent Terrace - Now THAT'S a castle worth drawing!

From Let's Talk Picture Books: Let's Talk Illustrators #142: Ana Sender

From The NYT: Traumatized by Memories of Middle School? You Are Not Alone

From Terri Windling's Myth and Moor: Time and Creativity

From ChronicleVitae: 5 Takeaways From My Covid-19 Remote Teaching

From The New York Times: The America We Need

From The NYT: When ‘Valley Girl’ (and Nicolas Cage) Shook Up Hollywood - for those of you who remember, this is actually a really interesting article!

From USA Today: Coronavirus gives us a chance to rebuild society together. Let's not blow it.

Kate Hosford's and Jennifer M. Potter's A SONGBIRD DREAMS OF SINGING

Sometimes you just need a lovely book that brings quiet and solace into your world. Such is the case with author Kate Hosford's and illustrator Jennifer M. Potter's A Songbird Dreams of Singing. They both dropped by to tell us more about it...
e: Kate - What a fascinating theme. I had no idea we all had such different and interesting sleep patterns. How did you think of and research the topic?
Kate Hosford:
Thank you. I didn’t know that animals had such different sleep habits either. Almost every fact I learned was new. Animals sleep while holding hands, while upside down, while standing on one leg, while flying…and that is only the beginning!
      I came to this book in a roundabout way. After reading the wonderful book The Soul of An Octopus by Sy Montgomery, I decided I would try to write a poetry collection about this highly intelligent creature. I even contacted Sy who kindly agreed to meet me and introduce me to her namesake, Sy the Octopus, at the Boston Aquarium. Despite Sy Montgomery’s generosity and my enthusiasm, I was not able to write poems about the octopus that really worked. However, somewhere along the way, I learned that octopuses change colors when they sleep and may be able to dream. When I learned that otters sleep while holding hands, and songbirds dream of singing, I knew that I had to set the octopus aside (at least temporarily), and write about sleeping animals. The songbird and otter spreads in the book became two of my favorite illustrations.
e: Jennifer - What was your creative process/medium for A Songbird Dreams of Singing, can you walk us through it?
Jennifer M. Potter:
My process for A Songbird Dreams of Singing involved a mix of traditional and digital illustration, and a lot of photo research. I compiled a bunch of references for each animal and sketched them in a bunch of different positions to try and get at the essence of their forms ZebraFinchStudies.jpg" vspace="10"> I went to the San Francisco Zoo, where I was able to sketch some of the species in person, and for the rest I did online research. For the final art, I made a bunch of textures and washes with watercolor on paper. Then I scanned them in and used the images to build a library of unique assets which I used to color everything.
e: Kate and Jennifer - What were your paths to publication like?
Kate Hosford:
I originally started writing picture books as a way to get more work as an illustrator. However, I quickly discovered that I was much better at painting pictures with words. By the time I sold a book, I was thrilled to leave the illustrations to experts like Jennifer. From the time I started writing to the publication of my first book was ten years. It is called Big Bouffant, and led to many wild hair parties.
Jennifer M. Potter: I was lucky in that Songbird came to me. By the time Running Press offered me the illustration job, Kate had already done all hard work!
e: Kate - Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of A Songbird Dreams of Singing?
Kate Hosford:
One of the poems in the book is based on the true story of a snail that curators brought to the British Museum from Egypt in 1850. The curators assumed that the snail was dead and glued it to a piece of cardboard for their exhibition. After four years, someone noticed a bit of slime next to shell and realized that the snail was still alive! When they bathed it in warm water, the snail woke up from its four-year nap and became famous for its napping abilities.
      While researching this snail, I wrote to Jon Ablett, a curator at the Natural History Museum in London where the shell now resides. Later when we visited London, Jon kindly offered to give my husband and I a tour of the research archives beneath the museum, which were enormous and fascinating. I got to see the shell of the famous snail, add my book to the world’s biggest mollusk library, and even see an octopus that Darwin had collected!
e: Jennifer - What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Jennifer M. Potter:
I think many different things can make an illustration magical. I can get just as lost in an image with patient, fastidious rendering as I can in one that is so loose and wonky, the whole thing will fall apart if you remove one line. Sometimes it's storytelling that makes a piece magical, sometimes it's texture. Or mood. Or detail. We all have different things we're trying to strengthen and explore, but ultimately it's about passion and progress. When that shows up on the page, it can't help but be magical.
e: Jennifer - How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
Jennifer M. Potter:
I'm personally very active on Instagram, and my wonderful agent, Lilla Rogers, regularly promotes my work on a variety of platforms. I'm not the most consistent with posting, especially when I'm busy with multiple projects that I can't share. But the kidlit illustration community is so supportive, and we're very good at broadcasting each other's successes.

Kate's writing studio
e: Kate - What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Kate Hosford:
My favorite part is coming up with new ideas. I keep a list of them and circle back from time to time to see if I still find them interesting. I also have over forty unpublished stories which I revisit occasionally and see if I want to pursue them. My other favorite part of the process is when the final artwork arrives, and suddenly the book is more than the sum of its parts. It is a magical experience when a book takes on a life of its own.
e: Kate and Jennifer - Is there something in particular about A Songbird Dreams of Singing you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Kate Hosford:
Sleep is simply a lens that allows us to appreciate how unique animals are. My hope is that the more children are able to learn about animals and their particular sleep habits, the more they will be in awe of these animals and want to protect them.
      I also want children to understand how inherently poetic science is. As I learned more about animal sleep some of the facts were so mysterious and beautifully strange that I could barely believe I had gone my entire life without knowing them. I think Jen really captures the magic of animal sleep in her illustrations which are scientifically accurate, but also dreamy and mysterious.
      One aspect of the book that I love is the poem order. We decided to order the poems from the largest animals to the smallest (sperm whale to fire ant), so that there is a gentle decrescendo throughout the book. I hope that some readers will recognize how the poems are ordered, or at least respond to it subconsciously and become sleepy by the end.
Jennifer M. Potter: I really hope my illustrations convey a sense of peace. I love animals, and I love science, but one of the reasons I was particularly drawn to Songbird is that it has a meditative quality that primes you for a good night's rest, and I really wanted to amplify that with the imagery. As a kid, I loved Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book. I loved reading the poetry and thinking about all the different ways in which the magical creatures slept, and by the end of the book, I was always yawning (in a good way!). Kate has created a book that harnesses that same dreamy wonder, only with facts that are as wild and wonderful as the fiction.
e: Kate and Jennifer - What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Kate Hosford:
I definitely want to write some more poetry collections on animals, including the octopus. I would like to write some books that show what is happening behind the scenes at different performances—like the opera, or the ballet. I’m interested in how tools of artists are made, like instruments and pointe shoes, and am also fascinated by the dynamics between musicians in chamber groups and in orchestras. I’ve tried to write many stories about musicians and hope to get it right eventually!

Jennifer M. Potter: I'm wrapping up work on two exciting new books. The first is Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator, a sweet story about being different by Emma Bland Smith (August 2020, Little Bigfoot), and the second is Voices of Justice: Poems about People Working for a Better World, an inspiring and moving book by George Ella Lyon, out in (October 2020, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). In my spare time I'm in written and visual development for a middle grade graphic novel series which would definitely be a dream project.